E.L. Katz's Dark Comedy Cheap Thrills Is SXSW's First Sell
This year’s South by Southwest has already been a hot topic of conversation, with Shane Carruth’s much anticipated Primer follow-up Upstream Color and the Evil Dead remake both putting on well-received screenings. And now the buying has begun.
The first film to get purchased this weekend was E.L. Katz’s midnight selection Cheap Thrills, which Deadline reports was picked up by Drafthouse Films and Snoot Entertainment, which got the rights to theatrical and all home releases, and will have the film in at least 20 theaters at a date that is yet to be determined. SXSW is not normally a location for heated bidding wars, but it took Drafthouse most of Saturday to beat out the other interested studios, which reportedly included Magnolia, Anchor Bay and IFC.
A comedy-thriller, Cheap Thrills is the directorial debut for Katz, though he has been the screenwriter for a handful of indie horrors such as Pop Skull and What Fun We Were Having. It was written by Trent Haaga and David Chirchirillo. The story is centered on a working-class family man who gets into a series of bets with a rich couple that ends up going way too far. The film stars Pat Healy and his The Innkeepers co-star Sara Paxton, as well as David Koechner and Ethan Embry.
Beyond this purchase, Drafthouse already had two films screening at SXSW including A Band Called Death, which celebrates the recent resurgence of a forgotten metal band, and The Act of Killing, the daring documentary that asks former Indonesian death squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings by way of film homages. The newly established distribution arm of the legendary Austin-based movie theater chain, Drafthouse stands to be a very, very active part of the SXSW acquisitions scene going forward-- and we wouldn't be surprised if they pick up another film or two before this year's fest is even over.
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